Photographing Black and White Macro


Macro photography can have many themes such as nature macro, super macro, abstract macro and such. We’ve touched on nature macro and explored how to capture the intricate details that only nature can create. Now let’s have a closer look at black and white macro, where the image is still presented really close up but where it is devoid of color. In black and white images, the patterns, shapes and textures become more prominent. To top this off, by using macro, we are presenting the subject in an uncommon perspective and showing off details that we ordinarily would not notice.

Since you are dealing with two techniques, macro and also black and white, you might find it challenging to shoot, especially if you are just starting out. Here are some suggestions you might find helpful:

Choose black or white subjects – since the objects you will be shooting are already black or white (or both), it can be easier to compose. You can already see the details of the object without the distractions color can cause.

Look at objects from various angles – an object may look different at certain angles, especially if the focus is very close to it. Find out what is the main attraction of the object; is it its shape and form? Does it have distinctive patterns? Once you’ve answered that, shoot the object at the angle that best shows off the asset.

Think out of the box – Aside from documentation, photographs can also be used to tell a story or to make a statement. Flex your imagination by creating the photo, not just taking it. Instead of taking pictures of objects that are already there and shooting them as is, create something by having a hand in how they will look in the shot. See if you can do something to the subject so it shows your creative touch. Since the image will be black and white, experiment with how the blacks relate to the whites, how the lighting will create or remove shadows, and how the subject can look unique.

Notice what’s around you – we’re so used to ignoring the things around us. Either they are too small to be obvious, or we look at them so often that we don’t really see them anymore. It might also be that some objects, such as black or white items, are not as obvious as colored ones so they hardly catch our attention. Holding a camera poised to take a picture can make you suddenly more observant, and ordinary things strewn around the surroundings begin to seem more eye-catching. 

Convert to black and white in post processing – most digital cameras nowadays have a black and white mode but it is advisable to convert photos to monochrome during post processing instead. This way, not only will you still have a colored photo if you changed your mind, but you will also have more options to play with in controlling tonal contrast.

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An Intro to Black and White Digital Photography

Black and white photographs are often deemed as elegant or classy. Although colored photographs can be breathtaking, colors can also be such a strong element that it can overpower the other elements such as patterns or texture. There is something stark and intense about black and white pictures that captures the viewer’s attention and doesn’t let it go.

Composition – when an image is stripped of color, other elements become much more obvious. The various textures become more noticeable, patterns and shapes become more pronounced, and contrast and toning need a deft touch. One needs a good command of the elements of composition to bring out the best in black and white images.

Shoot in color – the great thing about shooting in color is that you can always convert it to black and white in post processing. Then, if you change your mind and want it colored after all, you still have the original file to work with.

Use RAW – if your camera is capable of taking photographs in RAW format, it would be advisable to use that function. The image appears as black and white on the LCD screen but the camera is storing all the colors as well. RAW stores all of the image data unlike JPEG which compresses the file and disposes of some data. These extra data might be the saving factor in retrieving detail to over or underexposed areas.

When converting to black and white in post processing, try not to use grayscale or desaturation. Instead, play with the channels which will give you more control about editing the shades between black and white.

Shoot during overcast days –you might not usually take colored pictures on days like these because the colors look washed out and dull. However, overcast or gloomy days are a great time to shoot black and white pictures. As a matter of fact, you can also take fabulous black and white shots during bright sunlight because the harsh lighting can cause hard shadows which can appear dramatic in the monochrome image.

Low ISO – unless it is for intended effect, it is always best to choose low ISO when taking a photograph, whether colored or black and white. This is particularly necessary with black and white shots because image noise or grain is more visible.

Choose your subject – some subjects just look better in black and white rather than color. For example, a lot of portrait photography is shot in black and white because blemishes and imperfections are less apparent. Wedding photography is another area that makes full use of this style. Black and white wedding photos have this aura of elegance, solemnity and romance that seems difficult to capture in color. Cityscapes and landscapes also make great subjects because lines and patterns are emphasized.

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